Looking back on standout European nights at Wembley and Upton Park…

It’s not just been recently where West Ham have thrived against teams on the continent

As the dust settles on a thrilling if disappointing campaign in Europe, it’s worth reflecting on the club’s level of success over the years. Nine seasons in Europe have produced two wins, one final, two semi-finals and two quarter-final appearances.

Only twice have the Hammers failed to reach the last eight. Two ill-starred qualifying campaigns between 2016-2018 have been excluded. Epic failures against Astra Giurgiu in consecutive seasons merits no more than a passing nod. But in 60 years of European competition West Ham have enjoyed some memorable nights.

European Cup Winners Cup Quarter-Final 2nd Leg: Home v Lausanne, won 4-3 (23 March 1965)

The Hammers were 2-1 up from the first leg, and the return at Upton Park seemed a straight forward task. However, an exhilarating game ebbed and flowed to an exciting conclusion. It was the visitors who struck first as Kerkoffs headed home. West Ham looked vulnerable with the tie poised at 2-2. However, Eli Tacchella put through his own net in the 42nd minute; while Brian Dear scored after the goalie parried a Sealey shot. 

The Swiss roared back in the 49th minute as Hertig capitalised on a defensive error. The pendulum briefly swung against West Ham as they absorbed intense pressure. Relief was at hand as a Martin Peters header made it 3-2. But Lausanne came back yet again as Eschmann squared the game with a memorable overhead kick. Brian Dear scored in the final minute and finally put the game to bed.

European Cup Winners Cup Final at Wembley v Munich 1860, won 2-0 (19 May 1965)

West Ham reached the final with an all English line-up, a rare feat even in the 1960s. Their opponents Munich 1860 were cast in the same stylistic mould and favoured flowing, attacking one-touch football. 

They had already been crowned Bundesliga champions and would be formidable opponents. The pace and movement of two evenly matched sides was breathtaking to watch. However, the game remained goalless for over an hour. But then Ronnie Boyce slipped an inch perfect pass through to Alan Sealey who rammed home a thunderous strike. 

Bobby Moore inevitably claimed an assist for the Hammers’ second and decisive goal. He clipped in an inviting cross that hit Martin Peters and fell to Alan Sealey who duly obliged. For Ron Greenwood it was fulfilment and vindication of how the game should be played.

European Cup Winners Cup Quarter-Final 2nd Leg: Home v Den Haag, won 3-1 (17 March 1976)

At one point the Hammers were 4-0 down in the first leg, and on the receiving end of some highly dubious decisions. A brace from Billy Jennings kept the tie alive at 4-2. A surprisingly lightweight attendance of 26,000 witnessed a memorable turnaround. The Dutch game plan looked obvious as we were caught offside on 18 occasions. 

Alan Taylor made the breakthrough in the 28th minute. Five minutes later Frank Lampard connected with a Trevor Brooking pass to level the tie. In the 38th minute Tommy Taylor was felled in the penalty box. Our very own captain fantastic Billy Bonds steps up and converts with ease. 

With the Hammers 5-4 ahead on aggregate it would be a nervous second half. Shoemaker’s goal on the hour left us with a win on away goals.

European Cup Winners Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg: Home v Eintracht Frankfurt, won 3-1 (14 April 1976)

The Hammers got off to a flier in the first leg as Graham Paddon struck a 30 yarder in the ninth minute. Eintracht later edged to a 2-1 win but West Ham stole a priceless away goal. By April Upton Park’s pitch was a curious mix of sand and putrefied mud. 

Add a good old fashioned April shower and it looked like a scene from a really bad horror movie. It remained goalless at half time. Four minutes after the restart Trevor Brooking ghosted in with the header no one seems to remember. 

That would have been enough to take the Hammers through on away goals; but then a sumptuous pass from Brooking found Keith Robson, who initially mis-controlled but then buried a looping, rising shot. A wonderful individual display from Trevor Brooking was capped by a third goal. A nervous finale was guaranteed as Eintracht pulled a goal back through Beverungen. 

Various body parts were put on the line as West Ham set out to survive the onslaught; Frank Lampard caught the ball between his knees on the goal line, and the Upon Park mud pools also played their part. But the final whistle blew and West Ham were through to their second Cup Winners Cup Final.

European Cup Winners Cup Final at the Hysel Stadium v Anderlecht, lost 4-2 (5 May 1976)

A claret and blue army of 10,000 travelled to Belgium for the final. At the time Anderlecht were one of the best club sides in Europe. Hope turned into ecstasy when Pat Holland slipped behind the full backs to put the Hammers ahead. 

Then disaster struck as Frank Lampard misjudged a back pass and tore a stomach muscle. Anderlecht were suddenly back on terms. The incident forced Lampard’s substitution which altered the gameplan. The Belgians edged ahead as Francois Van der Elst scored early in the second half. 

However, Trevor Brooking’s curling cross found the head of Keith Robson to level at 2-2. It was a short lived reprieve as Anderlecht swamped the Hammers and added two more goals. It had been a classic final in much the same vein as 1965 but minus the happy ending.

Intertoto Cup Final 2nd Leg: Away v FC Metz, won 3-1 (24 August 1999)

A fifth place finish in the Premier League would ordinarily have nailed a UEFA Cup spot. But the vagaries of qualification demanded we qualify via the Intertoto Cup. Two preliminary rounds subsequently matched the Hammers against Metz, a useful side that included Louis Saha. 

Trailing by a single goal the outlook looked bleak for the return. However strong travelling support roared them onto a famous victory. West Ham raced into a 2-0 by half time with goals from Trevor Sinclair and Frank Lampard. Louis Saha made us sweat with a goal in the 70th minute. But Paulo Wanchope sealed the win twelve minutes from time.

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Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg: Home v Sevilla, won 2-0 (17 March 2022)

A 1-0 deficit from the first leg was retrievable but Sevilla would still be a stern test. Six Europa League titles gave them a certain mystique, and the players needed the fans to play their part. A record attendance didn’t let them down as the rumble of ‘irons’ carried around the stadium.

Tomas Soucek converted a Michail Antonio cross to level the aggregate scores. But the match drifted into extra time. It took an Andriy Yarmolenko goal in the 112th minute to cap a memorable night. Europa Conference League Semi-Final 1st Leg: Home v AZ Alkmaar, won 2-1 (18 May 2022): On the threshold of their first European final for 47 years the Hammers made a nervy start to the tie.

Alphonse Areola fumbled Tijjani Reinders’s low shot to leave them a goal behind at the interval. The fightback began in the 67th minute when Jarrod Bowen was fouled by AZ goalie Mat Ryan. Said Benrahma converted the penalty and would soon perform the service again. Fifteen minutes from time Michail Antonio stabbed home the winner after Aguerd’s header was blocked on the line.

It was a narrow lead but ultimately good enough to send us through.

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Europa Conference League Final at the Fortuna Arena v Fiorentina, won 2-1 (7 June 2023)

The night that framed a thousand memories for the fans. Some of whom were too young to remember the last time West Ham won a major honour. Thousands descended on Prague, most locked out by a feeble capacity in the Fortuna Arena. The Italians dominated possession in the early exchanges. They had a goal disallowed and Declan Rice went close in the first half. 

Patience paid dividends in the 62nd minute when Biraghi handled in the area. Said Benrahma coolly slotted the penalty home. We were enraptured for five whole minutes. Then Giancomo Bonaventura clinically finished a smart move. The minutes ticked ominously down to extra time and penalties. Five minutes into added time inspiration struck. 

With the stroke of a cultured left foot Lucus Paqueta repaid the £45 million he cost to buy. His pass tripped the offside trap and set Jarrod Bowen free. Somebody must have leaned on the slo-mo button as a powerfully struck shot passed under the goalie and into the back of the net. 

David Moyes danced down the touchline like a five-year old on Christmas morning. The universally hated white shirts with orange trim was suddenly the ‘must have’ accessory for fans. What a difference a game makes?

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Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg: Home v SC Freiburg, won 5-0 (14 March 2024)

Victory in the Conference League secured a spot in the Europa League and a record busting third consecutive season in Europe. The Hammers finished top of their group ahead, and the only blemish to an otherwise perfect record was an away defeat to Olympiakos. 

West Ham drew Freiburg in the round of 16. We had already beaten the Germans twice in the group stages, so a 1-0 defeat in the first leg was mildly surprising. The return produced a record 5-0 victory in European competition. It also featured one of the goals of the season,  a stunning solo effort from Mohammed Kudus. 

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